Saturday, 31 December 2011

2012 Resolutions

I am still away from home and my tools until next week. Therefore, aside from lots of reading, I have been thinking about the New Year ahead and how it relates to my personal wood working aspirations...

So ... My wood working New Years Resolutions, Aspirations, Hopes & Goals for 2012.
  • Take my quality of working to the next level.
  • Attend at least one (1 week)  wood working course.
  • Improve my finishing skills (including patience).
  • Work with more hard woods.
  • Have the confidence to try more complicated & challenging joinery.
  • Work on longer term larger projects.
  • Sell some of the things I make.
I'd be really interested in other peoples goals for the year ahead especially those beginners like myself.

Happy New Year Everyone!..

Monday, 26 December 2011

Joseph Moxon 1703

The Joinery section starts on Page 63.
  FREE Download from Google Books.

Our Workshop 1866

Another little gem from 1866.

Google Books - FREE Download

Boys Own Workshop

You just can't beat sitting by the log fire with a good book...

Available for FREE download from Google Books

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Raiding the Woodshed

I am currently away from home and visiting my parents in France for the festive period. So while away from my workshop and tools I certainly didn't expect to be making blog posts. 

Lately, I have been reading a lot of stuff by Peter Folansbee. Peter uses predominately Oak which is not sawn but rived by splitting and it inspired me to go and have a rummage through my parents woodshed. 

Walnut - which I think was felled early 2011

Oak of around 1.5ft diameter which was felled late last year 2010

While there are a few Oak & Walnut pieces, unfortunately, everything has been cut to firewood size lengths, but ... with some determination I might be able to get some stock for small boxes. 

The Walnut looks like it would be amazing once dried, planed and finished!

Time to start 'playing' - what tools have my parents got I  can use?

Attacking a likely piece of Walnut - first some mark up.

Using a wedge to scribe all the lines before splitting anything. First lightly, then again to a depth of about 1/4 inch.

First split I am using an old axe head as it's wider than the wedges. It's also as 'dull as dishwater!'

Look at that grain! Once I trim the pith and sapwood I'm sure there will be something usable...

Ok they are small but I'm determined to use them for something

I wish I had a scrub or fore plane handy...

Next culprit - the mighty Oak. Marked out for eighths.

Again I deeply 'scribed' all the lines before splitting.

Hmn ... not what I was expecting.

All splits completed. It helps to not separate each 'slice' after its been split. This keeps the whole thing together and more stable until all the splitting is done. The hatchet is then used to cut the final fibres and release the slices.

Straight grained Oak - I wish these pieces were three times as long! I could easily get 2"x2" lengths for a joined stool

The haul - An hour or two's work with a hammer and wedges. I further re-split each eighth of Oak into sixteenths.

If I had a froe Im sure this Oak piece would split cleanly again into 32nds.

All in all it's been a fun afternoon and I have actually learned something useful. I was surprised how accurately the wood can be split if scribed first. In most cases I 'split the line' and couldn't have been more accurate with a saw. I will see how this stock dries out and see if it inspires me to build something. If not - mum has already been eyeing it up for the fire. It's such a shame that the trees were cut down and 'logged' before I started this wood working journey. 

There are still a couple of Walnut and Oak trees on the property which my parents are thinking about removing - rest assured it will be me with the chainsaw  claiming first 'dibs!' This fun little exercise has given me the confidence that I could produce usable stock from a complete tree trunk with very basic tools. Imagine breaking reliance on the Timber yard! - From tree to furniture, now that's a satisfying journey!

Merry Christmas everyone!...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Jedi Knight

Had to share this quote:

Working with hand tools is a much more eco-friendly way to work. It’s a deep part of the human experience, working with that blade and the wood. It’s much like when Obi-Wan Kenobi gave Luke Skywalker the lightsaber and said, “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight. Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster. An elegant weapon for a more civilized age.”

Roy Underhill - 2008.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Rustic Stool

I was going to document the full build of this little project but my camera battery died after just a few beginning shots and by the time it had charged up I had completed most of the build. Needless to say its very similar in concept to my Traditional Saw Bench if you are interested.

The spare off-cut from my large Coffee Table top and the last remaining budget  2"x2" from my Saw Bench were dying to be introduced and the simple lap jointed Stool you see below is a result of their union.

I am calling it 'rustic' as the Pine that forms the simple lap jointed frame is so knotted and wild its almost unworkable. There is sap wood, reversing grain and knots but I couldn't bring myself to waste the wood. I was going to attempt lap jointed dovetails but I figured that would probably end in disaster at my skill level with this wood.

To be honest, this project almost didn't make it to completion as I nearly threw the whole lot out of the window in a temper several times. I had the whole thing completed bar the glue up. I did my final planning of the joints to get everything nice and flush and tight and did several dry fits with clamps to check everything was perfect before gluing it up. I was actually quite proud of my accuracy and the tightness of the joinery.

I aborted the first glue up as the top would not fit into the frame once glue was included and I frantically tried to get things apart from their half assembled state before the glue dried. This resulted in my pieces all getting mixed up - yes once again I didn't mark each component and its position - Doh!!!

After cleaning up the glue and waiting for it to dry, I re-sanded the joint faces making them a little looser and clean. However, I couldn't seem to get the pieces in the same order as originally intended and the joinery wasn't as tight. Attempt number two failed and resulted in glue over everything - Aaarrggh!!!!

Luckily my sanity allowed attempt number three - a charm! However, despite wiping all the glue up with a wet cloth and re-sanding everything again, the liquid Bees wax finish shows several glue 'stains'. They could be sanded out with wax reapplied but I'm going to leave them and wait for everything to just 'age'.

This stool is going to be used to stand on for easy access to kitchen cupboards and as a general useful item around the house so it's going to get marked regardless... and I simply 'cant be bothered!'

I may not be able to build 'fine' furniture yet, but it's useful furniture none the less! ... 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

1000 Page Views

1000 Page views - A nice little milestone for my little blog. Someone must be reading it!

Hopefully people are finding my 'wood working journey' vaguely interesting maybe even benefiting from my mistakes . So this post is a quick thank you to those few people who regularly drop by the blog and offer me advice, and take the time to comment.

On that note, I would like to ask 'you all' - and yes I have read the forums.

Has anyone who has paid 'big money' and purchased a Lie Nielsen plane had 'buyers remorse' and in hindsight wished they had gone the (much cheaper) refurbed Stanley route?

The reason I ask is I am considering purchasing a LN no#5 with two blades (heavily and slightly cambered) to act as my 'go to' plane for smoothing, roughing, shooting end grain and flattening. I like the idea of being able to reduce the mouth without having to remove the blade each time as they are based on the Stanley Bedrock design. They are however - super expensive!

Later and as funds allow I'd also like a LN no#7 and these two planes (no#5 & no#7) would cover almost all my needs.

I do already own new (read - poor quality) Stanley no#4 and no#6, which I might sell.

So what are your thoughts or criticisms on the above ideas?

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Xmas Goodies

The postman just delivered more new shiny things...

First up are two Lie Nielsen Mortise chisels of 1/2" and 1/4" - Pure none essential luxury items. I have been cutting my mortises using bevel edged chisels and while it's obviously 'doable', the thin bevel edged sides make it quite hard to maintain a square and straight edge to the mortise. It's going to be a lot easier to maintain a straight mortise using the deeper purpose designed blades. They feel amazingly balanced in the hand. I was quite surprised at the difference in colouration of the Hornbeam wood and size handles between the two sizes. I guess it makes sense...

Next up is the Veritas Cambered Roller for the Mark II honing guide. I have tried unsuccessfully to relieve the corners of my plane blades by hand. The regular straight roller makes for a dead straight blade edge which, while perfect for chisels etc, results in plane tracks when smoothing.  My long term goal is to sell my new no#4 and no#6 Stanleys and buy a premium (probably Lie Nielsen) no#5 Jack Plane with two blades. One heavily cambered  for stock removal and another slightly cambered for smoothing. Later I would also like a no#7 for jointing. Until then I will be using it to relieve the corners on my no#4 and no#6 Stanley blades.

Lastly, 'The Essential Woodworker' book. After a quick read of the introduction and a flick through its pages, this book appears to be the perfect companion to 'The Anarchist Toolchest'. It aims itself as a 'Pre woodworking' book and teaches the complete beginner amateur woodworker (working alone and without the advantages of an instructor) the basic but essential fundamental skills that are often taken for granted in most other books. Lots of diagrams and the quality of the printing and binding are of 'Old School' quality.

Axminster links for these items can be found on my 'Wish List'.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Large Coffee Table

This project started with me hanging out in the workshop, day dreaming and staring at my remaining wood supply. 'I wonder what I can use this 2m length of 2"x2"  (42mm x 42mm) for?'. 

My first coffee table was a success (to me anyway) and it gets used everyday - this post has been written on it!  However, I didn't actually make the top from scratch, it was reused from an Ikea type piece of (crap) furniture I reclaimed from the dump. Also, it's quite small and is generally permanently taken up by my laptop. Time for a larger one...

As already mentioned, I had a 2m length of 42mm x 42mm which I figured would make four legs and two 1.5m lengths of 67mm x 32mm which would make some nice chunky stretchers. 

Let the woodworking begin...

Cross cutting the legs and stretchers to length with the carcass saw on the bench hook.

Precision trimming to length on the shooting board. Legs are the coffee table standard height (or so it seems) of 40cm.

Doh! - I managed to make a mistake within minutes of starting by cutting one of the short stretchers too long - more coffee required! This means the long stretchers will be a bit shorter as a result as I planned one long and one short stretcher from each length of wood. Oh well, I'm not building to any specific sizes.

The table base pieces - four legs, two long (90cm) & two short (47cm) stretchers.

After learning from my mistakes in the past, I now mark all my pieces using masking tape that's easy to remove. I have tried to orientate each piece to show the best grain. Pencil marks always seem a hassle to clean up at the end and I always miss some.

Marking out the tenons. I have decided to have the stretchers flush with the outside face of the legs and offset the tenons to make them stronger by having more wood between the mortises at each corner.

Cutting the tenons with my dovetail saw.

Eight tenons cut, time for the mortises...

I mark out the mortise using a knife and then pare inside the waste side of the line with a chisel to create a shoulder before chopping out the waste. Here you can see how the joint will be offset.

Here is my favoured set up for chopping mortises & dovetails. I use a large butchers block on my saw bench. The small scrap of wood with a screw in it I use to check the depth of the mortise.

Eight mortises ready to go... two per leg.

Doh! - Working with soft Pine, you would think I would have learnt to be more careful by now. Forgetting to brush away the debris during chopping means the piece I am working on gets marked easily from the chips that find their way underneath. More clean up to do at the end.

Using the shoulder plane and bench chisels to fine tune the joinery and do a 'dry fit'.

Before gluing up the base I planed all the 'show side' joinery flush. Now I need a top...

Fresh from the timber merchants, three pieces of kiln dried 38mm x 225mm Pine all cut from the same single plank. I think it's Southern Yellow Pine and I allowed it to sit in my room for a few days before using it.

I allowed  about 10cm over on each piece to give me room to work around the knots. Back to the bench hook with my large tenon saw to cut to length.

My sawing skills are getting better and better - you just can't beat a good saw!

Despite a little twist in the boards, I decided to go ahead and glue them up. I will flatten them altogether afterwards. First two boards (shown) were glued, then the third afterwards.

Let the sweating commence ... I planed the top face flat using my no#4 set to take a deep cut to remove the small ridges that resulted from the boards not being slightly twisted. Then followed up using my no#6 to get everything flat. I am not worried about the bottom side as this will not be seen when the table is complete, I only need to make sure the edges are flat so it sits nicely on the table base.

Cleaning up the glue marks on the end grain.

Chamfering the edges, nothing too fancy... I also chamfered the table base and rounded all the corners.

Time for a 'tune up', getting everything nice and sharp before smoothing the table top. A tighter mouth, a closer chip breaker and a honed blade set for the shallowest cut possible made for a lot less tear out. I still suffered some planing tracks though, its almost impossible to camber the blade using the Veritas MkII honing guide.

Liquid wax is new for me as I have been using Good Ol' Boiled Linseed Oil for all my projects so far. First application and ...I hate it!

Second application and then a light coat of well rubbed Boiled Linseed oil - I love it!

I have decided against fitting the table top directly to the stretchers as originally planned. Instead I am going to make some small blocks attached to the stretchers to screw into the table top.Hopefully screws will take care of any seasonal shrinkage or expansion of the top.

Glueing the blocks to the base. I am sure they will be strong enough using modern glue as each glued surface is (side grain to side grain) 32mm x 52mm and there are six of them. Also, the only time these are loaded is when the table is being lifted up. The actual table base weighs very little. Time will tell...

Two coats of liquid wax, followed by a rubbing of BLO into the table base and it was on with the top. With the table top face down on the floor and the base on top of it, I measured the distances all around to make sure the top was square. Once again I used my gimlets (i love these things) to drill the pilot holes before screwing in each of the six 1 1/2" screws.

There are a few slight finishing marks that could be sorted by light sanding and re-waxing as a result of squeeze out glue i missed, or rather glue i rubbed away but not completely, hence it went unnoticed until waxing. Other than that - job done!

It's quite difficult to get accurate pictures using flash, but the top actually looks quite stunning in real life. With the table top measuring 104cm x 64cm, this is my largest project yet and I was struggling for room in my small 'workshop', I assembled the base to the top in a bedroom! I really like the liquid wax finish, some of the stretchers look very much like real Oak, there are no knots to give the game away easily. It's heavy enough and feels solid enough to be Oak!

Anyway, its time to clean up the workshop and hoover the entire house after I trod wood shavings into every room after smoothing the table top - I wasn't very popular.